Youth are more Vulnerable to False Memories than Middle-Aged Adults due to Liberal Response Bias.
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OBJECTIVE: Numerous studies show changes in vulnerability to false memory formation across development and into senescence. No study, however, has compared false memory formation in the critical transition period spanning late adolescence to middle adulthood. METHOD: Using the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm, we explored the effects of age and of emotion on false memory formation in youth (16 to 23 years of age) and in middle-aged adults (29 to 58 years of age). RESULTS: We found that youth endorsed more false lure items than middle-aged adults. This increased vulnerability to false memory formation stemmed from a more liberal response bias in the younger group. CONCLUSIONS: Youth have a more liberal response criterion than middle-aged adults that contributes to an increased vulnerability to false memory formation. Subsequent age-related changes in response bias may reflect the maturation of frontal and temporal regions. In youth, a more liberal response bias may contribute to the heightened propensity for poor decision-making seen in this population.